<em>The Shape of Water</em> image courtesy Fox Searchlight.

The Shape of Water image courtesy Fox Searchlight.

Academy Award Nomination Predictions and Dreams

The names we expect to be called at the Oscar nomination announcements (and ones that should be).

The most notable thing about film in 2017 was its depth. While the year lacked a few movies that blew everyone away and stood out as the only clear contenders for the Best Picture Oscar (in the way that Moonlight and La La Land distanced themselves from the field last year), there are dozens upon dozens of films that boast award-worthy elements. For example, The Post barely cracks my personal top 50 list. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie, it’s just heavy-handed, unremarkable, and again there’s a lot of depth.

With that in mind—and the Academy Award nominations coming on Tuesday—here are predictions for this year’s nominees and which films and creative talents would be up for Oscars in an ideal world.

Best Picture

Prediction

Call Me By Your Name

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Post

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Winner: The Shape of Water

Ideal

Get Out

Lady Bird

The Shape of Water

The Big Sick

Logan

A Ghost Story

Blade Runner 2049

The Disaster Artist

Winner: The Shape of Water

The real difference between the likely nominees and the ideal ones comes from a lack of genre restrictions. It’s still silly that certain types of movies aren’t really given consideration for Best Picture because they don’t fit the narrow slicing of importance in the eyes of the Academy. While Get Out is going to defy the odds as a horror film, it’s a far outlier exception. There still isn’t space at the Oscars for brilliant comedies (The Big Sick and The Disaster Artist), sci-fi or superhero action (Logan and Blade Runner 2049), or artfully weird independent cinema (A Ghost Story).

Best Director

Prediction

Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)

Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)

Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)

Jordan Peele (Get Out)

Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name)

Winner: Guillermo del Toro

Ideal

Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)

David Lowery (A Ghost Story)

Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049)

Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)

Jordan Peele (Get Out)

Winner: Guillermo del Toro

While a Gerwig nomination would be wonderful because of the lack of major female directors, the modest magnitude of Lady Bird keeps her potential omission from being a travesty. And Lowery made art out of movie about a sheet ghost, just saying.

Best Actress

Prediction

Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)

Meryl Streep (The Post)

Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)

Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)

Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Winner: Frances McDormand

Ideal

Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)

Hayley Lu Richardson (Columbus)

Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)

Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)

Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Winner: Sally Hawkins

Meryl Steep is going to get nominated because she’s Meryl Streep, but I’d love to see the slot go to Richardson for her portrayal of a drifting young woman in Columbus. No qualms if McDormand takes home the award, but Hawkins should have a slight edge for carrying a far better movie without talking.

Best Actor

Prediction

Gary Oldman (The Darkest Hour)

James Franco (The Disaster Artist)

Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)

Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name)

Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)

Winner: Gary Oldman

Ideal

Gary Oldman (The Darkest Hour)

James Franco (The Disaster Artist)

Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)

Hugh Jackman (Logan)

Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)

Winner: Gary Oldman

Oldman winning seems like the biggest lock of this award season. As for changes, Jackman deserves credit for fully humanizing a character who has often been surrounded by cartoony nonsense over the years.

Best Supporting Actress

Predictions

Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

Holly Hunter (The Big Sick)

Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)

Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread)

Winner: Alison Janney

Ideal

Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)

Allison Janney (I, Tonya)

Betty Gabriel (Get Out)

Tatiana Maslany (Stronger)

Rooney Mara (A Ghost Story)

Winner: Rooney Mara

There’s no category I’m less in line with conventional thinking than Best Supporting Actress. Still, it doesn’t matter since it’s essentially a race between Metcalf and Janney, and they’re both excellent.

Maslaney’s subtle balance of strength and vulnerability carried Stronger much more than Jake Gyllenhaal. Betty Gabriel was essential to Get Out’s creepiness (and her physical transformation was drastic). That said, Mara carried the burden making breakdowns emotionally moving while a sheet ghost stands in the background (the pie-eating scene remains one of year’s most bizarrely gripping on-screen moments).

Best Supporting Actor

Prediction

Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)

Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name)

Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World)

Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water)

Winner: Sam Rockwell

Ideal

Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)

Ray Romano (The Big Sick)

Patrick Stewart (Logan)

Michael Keaton (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water)

Winner: Willem Dafoe

The cartoonish buffoonery of Rockwell’s character is what sinks Three Billboards. It’s so frustrating that a great actor is probably going to win for a legitimately bad role. Meanwhile, there’s no chance that performances like Romano’s grounding performance in The Big Sick, Patrick Stewart’s fragile swan song as Professor X, or Keaton chewing up the villainy scenery in Spider-Man: Homecoming get the recognition they deserve. Hopefully, Dafoe will take home the award for his warm-hearted turn in The Florida Project.

Best Original Screenplay

Prediction

Get Out

The Big Sick

I, Tonya

Lady Bird

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Winner: Get Out

Ideal

Get Out

The Big Sick

The Shape of Water

Ingrid Goes West

A Ghost Story

Winner: Get Out

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a mess of a script with a couple scenes written to perfection (see: the priest’s home visit). Making a choice between Get Out and The Big Sick is a true Sophie’s Choice scenario, but I’d lean Get Out because of all the details that hint at the twist that became apparent upon repeat viewings. If the Academy liked even tinier indie comedies, Ingrid Goes West’s dark take on social media obsession would be a fun addition to the nominees.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Prediction

Call Me By Your Name

The Disaster Artist

Logan

Molly’s Game

Mudbound

Winner: Call Me By Your Name

Ideal

The Disaster Artist

Logan

Blade Runner 2049

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Winner: Logan

This category feels very underwhelming this year, but props should be given to Logan and Spider-Man: Homecoming for making excellent comic book movies that know exactly what they are in the era of superhero movie fatigue. (Also, I only want the incredibly flawed script of The Last Jedi to be nominated to make all sad, mad fanboys very upset. It’s my one spite pick.)

Best Cinematography

Predictions

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Post

Winner: Dunkirk

Ideal

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

A Ghost Story

The Florida Project

Winner: Blade Runner 2049

This category is absolutely loaded. There are no losers when it comes to the compositions of Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, and Blade Runner 2049. While I can’t remember a single standout shot in The Post or Three Billboards, the image of the Magic Castle’s outdoor room lights flickering on during dusk in The Florida Project and a sheet ghost spectre moving across an open green field in A Ghost Story both are seared into my brain. (It kills me that I can’t find a nomination slot for Columbus’s stunning architectural framing.)

Best Production Design

Predictions

Blade Runner 2049

The Post

Beauty and the Beast

The Shape of Water

Dunkirk

Winner: Blade Runner 2049

Ideal

Blade Runner 2049

Battle of the Sexes

Beauty and the Beast

The Shape of Water

Dunkirk

Winner: Blade Runner 2049

In terms of dropping viewers into the early 1970s, the degree of difficulty and scope of Battle of the Sexes simply surpasses The Post. Period pieces are easier when they’re mostly shuffling around bland rooms working on news copy. That said, it would be absurd if Blade Runner 2049 didn’t win for the future world the filmmakers created.

Best Visual Effects

Predictions + Ideal

Blade Runner 2049

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

War for the Planet of the Apes

Winner: War for the Planet of the Apes

Ideal winner: Blade Runner 2049

War for the Planet of the Apes is the front-runner as the previous films in the series were nominated, but failed to win. But at some point, they’re just tweaking the same formula. In addition to a host of other eye candy, Blade Runner 2049 boasts the only visual effects scene that blew me away in 2017—the unsettling holographic sex scene.

ssommerfeld@seattleweekly.com

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